New Zealand village could ban cats

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Winston Peters on August 22

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Winston Peters on August 22

A council in New Zealand's South Island is proposing to ban all domestic cats as a means to protect native species of birds and mammals.

Environment Southland, a government agency, wrote in a press release that the possible ban on cats is part of a larger effort that targets "72 specific pests" in the area.

She reportedly believes that she would have the backing of fellow residents in launching a petition against the proposal. Once a cat dies, owners in the village won't be allowed to get a new one.

"So your cat can live out its natural life at Omaui happily doing what it's doing", Ali Meade of Environment Southland told the New Zealand-based site Newshub.

The move comes as New Zealand works on an ambitious goal to become predator-free by 2050.

John Collins, chairman of the Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust, has told multiple media outlets it's not that people who want the ban are "cat haters", but rather that the area's native wildlife is especially in need of protection.

The council blames cats for preying on local wildlife.

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"Native wildlife is disappearing rapidly around the country", he reportedly told the Otago Daily Times, "and places like this where people still live and enjoy and hear the birdsong are probably few and far between".

But the proposal isn't without opposition. Additionally, people who already have cats would be required to have their pets spayed or neutered, registered and given a microchip ID. "If I can not have a cat, it nearly becomes unhealthy for me to live in my house", she said.

One resident Nico Jarvis said if such a rule were brought in she would refuse to stick to it because she believes her cats are the only way to combat the area's rodent problem. "It's saying you can't have a cat".

Jarvis and others told the Times they will actively protest the plan.

She added: "The community here do understand the conservational side of things, absolutely, but I think long-term, the ramifications of this are not something that even non-cat-owners will be comfortable with".

The council gave Omaui residents until October 23 to weigh in on the potential ban.

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